Jalen Neal , 2* JuCo left tackle from Scottsdale C.C. (AZ), committed and signed with the Boilermakers early today. At 6’8 (or 6’7 depending on the site) 300 pounds, Neal was recruited to come in and push for the starting spot at left tackle next season. Neal is a late bloomer who played both football and basketball in high school. He entered Scottsdale as a 6’7, 245 pound defensive lineman, and leaves as a massive 6’8 prospect. If nothing else, this speaks to Neal’s work ethic and desire to play football.
Neal chose the Boilermakers after a short lived commitment to San Diego St. The Michigan native has only played 2 years on the offensive line after playing defensive end in both high school and as a redshirt junior college player, but now has prototypical NFL size for the left tackle position, Neal will have 2 years to play 2 seasons, as a true junior college transfer and will enroll in January and participate in Spring practice.
Neal fills the large hole left by the graduation of fellow JuCo recruit David Hedlin. While signing a player like Neal was a necessity in this class. It really speaks to Hazell and Purdue’s inability to recruit a left tackle from the high school ranks. The only player on the current roster that can play the position is Cameron Cermin, and he is much better suited as a right tackle or center. When we brought in Hedlin 2 years ago, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to develop someone to play left tackle, while Hedlin temporarily held down the position, unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and Neal will now come in and put another band-aid on the most important position on the offensive line. This isn’t a knock on Neal, but really puts into question the development of offensive linemen currently on the roster. Hopefully for both Neal and the Purdue program, he can hit the ground running in West Lafayette and hold down the blindside for whoever is playing quarterback.